Tag Archives: LeBron James

Signs of the Apocalypse: 50 Reasons to Hate Sports

Poster child.

This post is dedicated to Louis Oosthuizen.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think it is. Granted, it’s not Heat fans (should they exist). It’s not Spain. And it’s certainly not the immediate family of the funny looking dude who crushed everybody at the British Open.

To everybody else: sports in 2010 kind of sucks, no?

Now I’ve been kicking this (blasphemous?) thought around my subconscious since at least the end of 2007, when my beloved Miami Hurricanes pretty much blew off their own toes in a nationally televised game against football powerhouse Southern Calif the University of Virginia.

48-0. We bulldozed the Orange Bowl months later out of sheer humilation.

That was the first “things will never be the same again” epiphany for me, and maybe the inevitable moment in every man’s life when you realize that sports is primarily about money and ego (and doing everything in your power to destroy legacy/history/dynasty). The actual loss, though emasculating in every sense, wasn’t the impetus for such a flood of emotion. It was instead the fact that we’d let our once-proud program come to this – a whipping boy for mediocre competition, a team without a home, and worse, a casualty of disinterest.

The most startling thing about it all? It happened so damn fast.

National champions some five years prior.

I imagine the people of Baltimore had this same feeling when the moving vans left for Indy; or Beantown when Clemens fled north of the border; or Packers fans every time Ted Thompson opens his mouth.

Crushing blows happen. They’ve always happened. And it used to be that I’d let them soak in, bitch about them for a couple days, then collect my thoughts and convince myself that the worst was over.

This is as bad as it gets. This will not happen again – not to my team, not to my town, not to the guys I love.

As you, the jaded skeptic, already know, such a line of thinking is irrational and naive.

But that hasn’t stopped me from clinging to the things I know I can bank on. So when Tom Glavine won his 300th game with hated rival New York, when the Braves traded Kevin Millwood for Johnny Estrada, dumped childhood hero Andruw Jones and railroaded an aging John Smoltz, I let baseball go for a little while and shifted my focus to three immovable pillars: Tiger, LeBron, The U.

What now?

Again, maybe things have always been this bad or maybe it’s just my sports optimism coming back to bite me in the ass. But it seems to me that era-defining debacles are in fact multiplying and subdividing – that we’re headed face-first into an irreversible black hole of narcissism, cheating and straight cash homies.

Apathy, too. After all, letting go is much easier when there’s a giant snow shovel repeatedly wailing on your fingers.

Of course, it’s about this time every year that I’m reminded by ESPN’s resident tear-jerker Chris Connelly that there are at least five good things left in sports. And these good things make me think of other good things – Derek Jeter and Tim Duncan. But at this point, I wouldn’t be half surprised if the Spurs ship Timmy to Dallas and Selena Roberts exposes Jeter’s ’98 ‘roids bender with Greg Maddux.

Padres great Greg Maddux

I’m also aware that – had I the wherewithal and America Online – I could’ve written this post as a 9-year-old dumbstruck by the OJ murders.

I think Chuck Klosterman is on to something: sports atheism. Love the game, hate the players… or rather, just write them off altogether. And their teams, too.

Still not buying? Let me change your mind. Here are some of the things that I hate about sports as of July 19, 2010.

I hate…

1) That a guy I’ve never heard of blitzed the field at one of my favorite golf tournaments. Again.

2) That Tiger Woods is a scumbag, a scumbag I will always root for.

3) That the 2008 U.S. Open – the greatest individual sports achievement I’ve ever seen – is now guilty by association.

4) That our star NFL quarterbacks have turned to assaulting defenseless women, you know, instead of defenseless canines.

5) The Geriatric Who at the Super Bowl. Thanks, Janet Jackson Nipple.

6) LeBron’s hour-long Make Out Session With Himself.

7) That LeBron James referred to LeBron James in the third person multiple times during LeBron James’ Make Out Session With Himself.

8) That LeBron forfeited his G.O.A.T. legacy.

9) That maybe LeBron’s an okay dude and Delonte West’s getting off scot free.

10) That Floyd Landis even exists.

11) That vuvuzelas even exist.

12) The confluence of women, hotel rooms and star athletes. See: Bryant, Kobe; Roethlisberger, Ben; Irvin, Michael; Woods, Tiger; and

13) Dead McNair, Steve.

14) Baseball’s power outage, the tarnished record books, and the fact that the dramatic offensive decline just makes the last quarter century look like a bigger farce than it already is.

15) That head injuries will inexorably change the way tackle football is played.

16) The University of Southern California, Calipari’s tenure in Memphis, Meyer’s tenure in Florida, Lane Kiffin’s tenure on Earth.

17) The professionalization of prep sports and the idea that 18-year-old John Wall isn’t good enough for the NBA, but Wall + 6 months of college makes him a No. 1 pick.

18) That there’s a giant, lonely, inexplicably sad hole where the Orange Bowl used to be.

Once-sacred ground.

19) That these are the mental images – in order – I will take from seeing a rookie Stephen Strasburg in person.

20) That the best golfer in history is no longer good at golf.

21) Andre Agassi’s biography and the notion that “too much information” doesn’t apply to anything anymore.

22) That I’ve “forgiven” Tiger for something that is none of my business to begin with.

23) That I’ll never fully forgive LeBron, even though he’s only guilty of what I’m guilty of – pride.

24) That T.O.’s Ego hasn’t diminished along with T.O.’s Skillz.

25) That, at this point, Number Four’s just doing it to mess with us.

As Neil Young would say, "Old man, take a look at yourself. You're being a dick."

26) That a headbutt, a handball and a few bad calls are the only things I remember from the last decade of soccer.

27) That anybody, including Curt Schilling, can have their own blog.

28) That Manny Being Manny stopped being funny when we found a needle in his ass.

29) That we only blackballed Barry Bonds when he stopped hitting home runs.

30) Plaxico’s abject stupidity.

31) Peter Angelos’ abject stupidity.

32) The NBA’s vendetta against common sense.

33) Contract disputes.

34) Pending lockouts in most of the sports I still care about.

35) That Floyd Mayweather has big money and a big mouth, but won’t put one where the other is.

36) That Tiger, LeBron and Big Ben preempted a thousand heartwarming stories.

37) That I have egg on my face for defending the indefensible Milton Bradley.

38) The Tour De France. Enough already.

39) That Lawrence Taylor can’t find a better person to speak for him than Lawrence Taylor’s wife.

40) That I have zero good excuses for not caring about hockey.

41) That David Reutimanns are few and far between.

42) That there will never be another Tim Tebow.

43) That Junior can’t play forever.

43) That my alma mater’s “lack of institution control” no longer refers to the crappy parking situation.

44) That basketball’s biggest breath of fresh air plays for a stolen franchise.

Kevin Durant, Zombie Sonics

45) The rape and pillaging of small-market teams at the trade deadline.

46) The fact that, on top of everything else, sports is just indiscriminately cruel (RE: Tom Watson @ Turnberry).

47) Villifying an Olympic hero for a little weed.

48) That we’ll never hear from Armando Galarraga again.

49) That the sports gods will get me back for this.

50) That if something’s too good to be true…

It probably is.

– Robbie

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“Breakthrough?” and Other Google Trends: The Week in Review, Redux

Guess who I'm pulling for.

It’s Tiga Tiga Woods, ya’ll.

Does it speak to my cruel sensibilities that I get almost as much joy from watching Phil carry himself like a plus-sized Care Bear than I do from seeing Tiger’s name on the first page of the leaderboard at my favorite golf tournament?

Was that sentence too long to understand?

I appreciate the fact that Phillis has to keep things tight with Amy – allowing his wife to dress him without any regard for what his bros may think. But come on…

Like a puff pastry with hair.

Man up, Phil.

As you already know (because you woke up at 4 a.m.), three-time Open champion Tiger Woods shot an opening round 67 at personal whipping post St. Andrews. Tiger stands one behind cautionary tale John Daly, three behind a guy I’ve never heard of, and four behind personal inspiration Rory McIlroy (pictured below).

Time to reevaluate pink? Hmm... no.

On a side note, crazy kudos to Mike Tirico for saying he “wouldn’t be at all surprised” to see John Daly pop up on the leaderboard. That takes balls… and the wherewithal to know that nobody watches ESPN2 at 5:30 on a Wednesday.

Here are some random observations from the 15 or so minutes I’ve been awake with the TV on (timeline: Thursday, 9:30 a.m.) .

1) St. Andrews plays like your local hackers’ course when the weather cooperates. Does it hail in Scotland? If so, I’m hoping for a Friday hail storm.

2) It’s hard to tell whether ESPN’s on-course reporter Wendi Nix is genuinely hot, or whether she’s just benefitting from the British crowd.

3) My father and his snap hook are no doubt heartened by the news that “long and left” plays at the Open.

4) There’s a whale on the fi Mark Calcavecchia is on the fifth green.

5) (via last night) Props to ESPYs standout Erin Andrews for her classy hotness. If 98 percent of Gainesville was as classy-hot as Erin… we wouldn’t have a “Midtown.”

Erin at the ESPYs

6) Props to ESPYs standout Michelle Beadle for her classy hotness. If 98 percent of ESPN was as classy-hot as Michelle… we wouldn’t have a Jenn Brown… who’s just kind of skanky.

So hot all the other pics were burned.

7) Props to ESPYs standout Brooklyn Decker for… just everything, really.

Brooklyn: The Sixth and Seventh Boroughs

8) My pops asked me yesterday if I’d wear a LeBron jersey if his friend could land us opening night Heat tickets. I told him I’d wear a white headband and a crown, too. My motto: forgive, forget, join bandwagon.

9) I’m either going to see “Inception” or Stephen Strasburg Friday night. Either way, my head will explode.

10) The Dallas Mavericks’ Omar Samhan lauged (via Twitter) at one of our jokes last night. This is noteworthy because Shrek has never laughed at our jokes before.

Just kidding, Omar. Go Gaels.

11) Just realized Tiger was wearing pink, too – obviously to mock Phil. Obviously.

Pink, for the ladies.

12) “For us, he was like mannah from heaven.” ~ T-Wolves GM David Kahn on Darko Milicic. Seriously. Watch the rest of his transcendent interview with SC favorite Chris Webber right here.

(You didn’t click on the link, did you… I promise that the 4:53 mark will make your day immeasurably better. Click on the damn link.)

13) Robb Hilson – the aforementioned “pops” – is riding an unprecedented hot streak. His temporary stay in The 305 heralded the arrival of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and UM stud recruit Seantrel Henderson. He’s also factored prominently in Tiger’s hot start – “I was up at 3. Watched the whole round.”

14) I’ve just managed 14 observations in 15 minutes. This is some kind of record. Let’s finish the week up so I can pat myself on the back.

__________

On Monday, Arizona’s Chris Young, New York’s Nick Swisher and Milwaukee’s Corey Hart participated in the Home Run Derby. Capitalizing on this wave of momentum, I entered an ’87 Fiat at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Yes, David Ortiz won the Derby and, no, that mysterious package marked “sharp objects enclosed” was not what you’re suggesting it was.

Smart ass.

Sticking with All-Stars, Boston third basemen Adrian Beltre announced that a tweaked hammy wouldn’t keep him out of the Midsummer Classic. In similarly relevant news, Publix held a 10% off sale on disposable Gillette razors.

On Tuesday, ex-Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas signed with the Miami Heat. Makes perfect sense to me – foreign refugees generally flee to South Florida to escape deceptive, egomaniacal leaders. Just one tiny hang-up…

In “no sh*t” headlines, RE: CNN – “Obese children at risk for acid reflux.”

Over the weekend, American cycling star Lance Armstrong suffered a hopes-dashing crash at the Tour de France.  In a possibly related turn of events, bike trails in Miami are seeing a drastic decline in grape smuggling.

You see where I'm going with this?

On Wednesday, the New York Red Bulls signed former French National star Thierry Henry to a multiyear contract. Though Henry will face lesser competition in the MLS, American rules will prevent him from using his hands.

Cheating: a staple of the international game.

Said Henry on the competitive fire that burns deep within his soul:

Also on Wednesday, aforementioned T-Wolves GM David Kahn traded 25-year-old stud power forward Al Jefferson to Utah for two heavily protected draft picks. Not to be outdone, Braves GM Frank Wren traded 27-year-old shortstop Yunel Escobar to Toronto for journeyman Alex Gonzalez and his career .294 OBP.

The winner in all of this? Wal-Mart, the former poster boy for “race to the bottom.”

On Friday, the U.S. swapped Russian spy Anna Chapman for Heat spy Dwyane Wade, cash considerations and a player to be named later.

Last Saturday, Cincinnati Reds rookie Travis Wood came within three outs of throwing 9 perfect innings in an eventual 1-0 loss in extras to the Phillies. On a day when New York’s Javier Vasquez and Baltimore’s Chris Tillman took no-hitters into the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, Wood’s efforts almost resulted in the third perfect game and fifth no-hitter of the season.

On Sunday, disgruntled fans filed a motion to reintroduce what made them love baseball in the first place.

Steroids.

In the span of two weeks, I will have watched an Atlanta Brave win an All-Star Game MVP and the ‘Canes land the top recruit in the country, received a Pearl Jam shirt as a gift from a friend, and attended a Smashing Pumpkins concert. In other words, I’m still living in 1994.

On Wednesday, fans of redemption set their alarms for 4:09 a.m. Fans of bra fat slept in.

Have a subpar weekend.

– Robbie

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Another Dan Gilbert Letter

"Heyyyy, fogettaboutit!"

On Friday, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote this about former employee LeBron James. On Tuesday, he came to his senses and crafted the following.

__________

Dear Cleveland,

All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

I’d first like to make it abundantly clear that losing a quarter of a BILLION dollars overnight makes you a cranky, cranky man. Ever gone through a nasty split up with the love of your life? Internalize that feeling for me. Now imagine she was worth a quarter of a BILLION dollars.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This pains me because 1) I thought he’d spend his entire career wasting away on an otherwise mediocre team and 2) because he was worth a quarter of a BILLION dollars.

Like you, I’ve only had a handful of hours to digest this soul-crushing news. I’m in a world of hurt and confusion. Like you, I feel betrayed – like I’ve just been dumped by my long-time Shuga Momma (who was worth a quarter of a BILLION dollars). I’ve yet to gather my thoughts, and in the immediate Le-fallout, I’ve shouted things that would make a Tourrettes-stricken George Carlin blush.

So naturally, I’ve published all my innermost thoughts on the internet… not to “light my credibility on fire” or to “be a sore loser” or to “overuse quotations marks in the interest of abrasive snark,” but to tell you what a “D-BAG” LeBron James is.

His announcement was made with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional (insert other vitriolic descriptors) build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

This was way more narcissistic than when Tiger Woods starred in his creepy Nike ad and then staged a “press conference” in front of a hand-picked group of “friends.” And I remember that, Cleveland fans, because it happened like five months ago.

This was even more narcissistic than the time Alex Rodriguez looked Katie Couric straight in the eye on network television and swore he’d never taken steroids. And then after he had admitted to taking steroids, kissing himself in the mirror for Details Magazine.

I think LeBron James is a big fat narcissist – like Brett Favre mixed with Kanye mixed with OJ mixed with Hitler.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

Excuse my triple negative. What I’m trying to say is that I won’t betray you. NEVER.

(note to self: don’t sell team until last remaining Cavs fan dies)

Cash strapped? Can’t make payments on that 6-bedroom home you overpaid for? Visit Quickenloans.com today to sign up for our limited-time 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, starting at just 3.99% (4.187% APR)!!!

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future.

Think “super exciting.”

Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you. Daniel Gibson has already communicated that to you.

I hesitate, though, to share his remarks as they might draw attention to the fact that we’re building our future in part around a guy named “Boobie.”

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal. I’m talking about LeBron leaving, not the class action lawsuit filed against my company for withholding overtime pay.

You have given so much and deserve so much more… even though you ranked dead last in attendance the year before we landed LeBron.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

(SUCK ON THAT, JOE WILLIE NAMATH!)

You can take it to the bank.

Bear Stearns, to be exact.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware (2x4s, hammers, nails – we’re shuttering up The Q) to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

For instance, I am now selling LeBron Fatheads for $17.41 to commemorate the birth year of Benedict Arnold. I’ve just lost a quarter of a BILLION dollars – will an 80% hit on remaining LeBron inventory really make a difference?

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

(Here’s a list of other metaphors I thought about using:

1) Some people think they should get free text messaging without “upgrading to the unlimited texts” package.

2) Some people think the elevator to the top of the mountain only has an up button.

3) Some people think they can make a hit television sitcom with Tina Fey without running their lines during breakfast rehearsals.

4) Some people think that you can compare Mo Williams to Scottie Pippen and he will magically become Scottie Pippen.

5) Some people think they can have their cake, when really they can’t.)

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

It’s better to get lucky on lottery night and snag the No. 1 pick in the best draft in 20 years.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

Namely, children “who” don’t randomly hyphenate words, mix metaphors and “overuse” punctuation.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma… So yes, I’m acknowledging that there was a curse on Cleveland, but not anymore. Now it’s in Miami.

By does “right,” I mean… I want him to come back? I want him to apologize? I want him to offer himself as a human sacrifice? This is unclear to me as well, even though I wrote it. I will be communicating to you what I mean in the near future.

Just watch. Jessie Jackson will compare me to a slave owner.

What an OVERREACTION.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day (low 68, 70% chance of rain, tornado warnings).

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital (what’s left of it), knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue…. because you are such classy fans.

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner, For Now
Cleveland Cavaliers

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LeBron’s Abandoned Legacy

A legacy in flames.

By now it’s had time to sink in – as much as it’ll ever sink in, anyway. He made his decision, and though it still burns like hell, at least the initial shock’s warn off. Three days later, in the year 1 AC, we finally have our wits about us. We can look at it rationally, if ever such a thing this messy – this slimy – can be looked at with rationality.

I’m not going to write what Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote in his open letter to Cleveland. I’m not going make guarantees I can’t make good on and I’m not going to “put everything in quotes” to make it “more dramatic.” There will be no talk here of meat cleavers to the back or “heartless and callous actions.” There will be no name-calling, though make no mistake – I, too, think LeBron James is a narcissist. As Dan Le Batard told Bill Simmons, having an absolute lack of self-awareness is the very definition of narcissism (And “The Decision” is the very definition of lack of self-awareness). But now the body’s cold, the rosin’s settled, “smoldering jersey” is just metaphor.

It’s time to look at The Decision logically.

What most disappoints me is not that he left his hometown – this is an era of freewheeling and free agency, there are no more Cal Ripkens. What most disappoints me is that he forever foreclosed on his greatest potential. He can no longer be what he could’ve been in Cleveland (or New York, for that matter). Not with Dwyane Wade by his side. His ceiling has been irrevocably lowered by his decision to take the easy way out. He doesn’t have to carry the load – be the guy – every single night, and unlike Jordan and Bird and Russell, that’s exactly what he was looking for.

LeBron, with Batman and Robin

Seems to me that there’s a difference between knowing that you need help and actively wanting help. Eighties MJ staved off teammates like the Plague. He did everything himself because deep down he knew that none of the guys around him on their best days could match the competitive fire in his own gut. Phil Jackson had to coax him into sharing, into the triangle, into trusting his teammates. It was an exercise in teeth pulling. Even after he begrudgingly mastered the concept of team, Jordan constantly struggled with deference – not out of selfish ambition, but out of a maniacal self-confidence that he was always the best guy for the job. Don’t take it from me. Ask Steve Kerr’s black eye.

LeBron’s not wired that way. And I was evidently the last one to see it. I wrote raving 1,000-word posts about him right up until the Boston Massacre. I harped on the perennial shortcomings of his supporting cast. I knocked Cavs’ management for Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall. I blamed Delonte/Gloria for the game 5 home meltdown. I chastised those with the gall to compare Mo Williams or Antawn Jamison to Scottie Pippen. And even as I sit here looking back on the past seven years, I find myself genuinely irritated by Mike Brown’s ineptitude and floating any number of trade deadline “what ifs?”

Maybe his last-second heroics against Orlando, his 48 Special at Detroit, his goofball pre-game routines, and his awe-inspiring athleticism blinded me to what I now recognize as his only true flaw – a soft will. Or rather, maybe I knew all along that he didn’t have the killer inside him like Jordan or Isiah, but teased myself into thinking that he’d compensate with superior size, talent, jumping ability and charm. He just looked the part. Had it all. Came into the league as the most hyped player in history and all but shattered our wildest expectations. I pulled for LeBron because 1) I liked him and 2) because I ultimately thought he’d be the one. The Greatest.

Nope.

As of Thursday, “greatest” is no longer in play, and to me – a guy without any serious rooting interests – this is by far the biggest disappointment of it all. If you’re a fan of basketball, of history, or of greatness in general, LeBron’s outright forfeiture of destiny totally sucks. You invested in these Cleveland years because you thought they’d pave the way for something bigger… only the payoff never came.

Which brings us to the question of legacy. LeBron said he didn’t want to end up a 31-year-old with bad knees and no ring. I understand the argument. I think it’s 100 percent valid. He spent his entire career in Cleveland, where Delonte West and Anderson Varejao were the best crunch-time players they could match him with. This in itself is inexcusable. If Gilbert wants to slam his one-time meal ticket, he must first acknowledge the blood on his own hands. He never gave LeBron the best chance to win, and LeBron’s told us over and over that it’s all about winning.

Here’s my question: Winning to what end, LeBron? To leave your indomitable imprint on the game? To be talked about 50 years from now in the same breath as the Birds and Magics? To be a global brand? To be cherished? To be legend? Just to be liked?

Well you chucked all those cards out the window when you signed on for South Beach – a place without any tradition, sorry sports fans, and most irreparably undermining to your legacy, a guy in Dwyane Wade who wants all the same things you’ve alleged to have wanted. Only he really wants them. And he wants them more.

LeBron will win. LeBron will fit his fingers and toes with championship rings. He will do things with a basketball that you have never seen before and may never see again. But try as he might, LeBron James will never scale the same heights he left behind in Cleveland. Because, in Miami, all the peaks are just that much lower. Climbing Everest isn’t quite the same when, to borrow a dig from Charles Barkley, you get there on “piggyback.”

Deal with the devil.

Imagine 2003 Phil Mickelson packing up his clubs, partnering up with the best swing coach in the game, and “taking his talents” to the Nationwide Tour. He’d dominate, but would we look at him the same way?

LeBron bolted under the guise of winning, but I don’t think his decision was about winning at all, not in the Jordan/Kobe sense, anyway. Their type of winning was tied to something larger – something that could be immortalized, enshrined by the embellishment of collective memory, mythologized by fathers and their sons. James cannot achieve that anymore. We’ll instead remember him for his spectacular athletic prowess, his affable demeanor, the “old days” back home and his X-number of asterisk-riddled titles.

He must’ve been aware of the tradeoffs. He is, after all, a student of the game, regardless of whether he’s surrounded himself with idiot high school buddies. So why not tell it straight? Tell us he wanted to come to South Beach to play with his friends. To soak up the glitz in a city that does glitz better than any. Why not tell us, “Hey, I gave it my best shot. I tried to be The Man every night. I’m tired of pulling the slack. I’m tired of filling the holes.”

“I’m tired of being The Man.”

It’s easier after this entire debacle to pick on him for his inconsistent jump shot or criticize his post game. To call him a choker… These things are beside the point.

LeBron James is a great basketball player – there is no disputing that – but LeBron James will never be Great. He left Greatness in Cleveland. And so Michael Jordan sleeps easier these day. Bill Russell shakes his head. Kobe lifts weights. They heard what I heard when LeBron said “South Beach” –  a gasping hush. The sound of a dying legacy.

– Robbie

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The Decision (LeBron + Week In Review)


This one’s for you, Cleveland.

At roughly 7:20 p.m. on Thursday night, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst compared LeBron’s departure to “a nuclear bomb falling on the city.” I’ll try to be slightly less dramatic.

LeBron James is the spiritual offspring of Art Modell, a backstabbing egomaniac, and very probably the worst person in the wor

Okay, let’s try that again.

I will never watch another basketball game involving “The Cleveland Killer” Leb

This isn’t gonna work. How about a live account of ESPN’s “The Decision”?

8:42 “HIV Antibody” tops Yahoo! trends. Serious question… Would Cleveland pass up the cure for AIDS to resign LeBron?

8:47 Tim Legler’s obviously spent the bulk of free agency signing period on South Beach. Impeccable tan, Tim.

8:49 My mother just sat down on the couch next to me. “Isn’t this exciting?” she asks, sipping a fine merlot. My dad cranks the volume on the TV as he gloats about his May “KJ2MIA” prediction. I’m pinching myself to make sure I’m not dead and in some kind of basketball hell.

8:54 ESPN anchor Ryan Burr: “The biggest winner tonight is the Boys and Girls Club.” Wrong, Ryan.

8:55 Chris Broussard continues to cover his ass, suggesting Chicago’s still a player. The “fluid situation” counter hits 2,203,384.

8:58 I despise you, LeBron. But nice freakin’ beard.

9:00 Predictions: QbytheU – Cleveland (“I’m gonna be pissed if they worked us up for nothing.”); Afrobutterfly – Miami; Motherfly – Miami

(note: I promise, this family vacation is almost over)

9:03 I’ll tell you what, if LeBron does stay in Cleveland, a lot of people leave this mess with serious egg-on-face (ahem, Stephen A. Smith, Chris Broussard and everybody else affiliated with ESPN sans SC favorite William J. Simmons.)

9:05 White man Jon Barry refers to Mike Wilbon as “Wilby” for a second consecutive time.

9:07 First close-up of LeBron. Odds: 80% Announces Miami, 10% Announces Cleveland, 10% Throws up before either

9:12 So I’m guess he’s not announcing “within the first 10 minutes.”

9:16 Evidence that newspapers suck…

“Top Story” at Cleveland Plain Dealer

9:19 “Oh my gosh, the guy with pictures on farm animals,” says Jim Gray-hater QbytheU.

9:20 ESPN scroll: “BREAKING NEWS: LeBron James clears throat, contemplates after-party.”

9:23 LeBron doin’ big things for underprivileged youth, plaid.

9:24 “It’s been a real humbling experience,” says The King.

9:25 He maintains he made up his mind this morning. I believe him. A faint glimmer of hope wells up inside me. I’m picking Cleveland.

9:28 And LeBron James chooses… *drumroll*

*more drumroll*

… the veal scaloppini!

Just kidding. He’s going to Miami.

(view from Cleveland)

9:37 Text from Bryan Holt: “KJ2MIA… I hate basketball even more.” Agree.

9:38 Text from Taylor P.: “Perez was right! Party in s beach!”

9:39 Text from Heat fan Jason P.: “If there was ever a time to say I was wrong and be completely happy about it, this was it.”

9:40 Call from diehard Heat fan Philip Kates. Rejected.

9:43 LeBron gives mad props to Heat owner “Micky Erickson.”

Gratuitous Durantula

9:50 Durant: classy, quiet, great jump shot. In other words, the Anti-LeBron.

9:51 “LeBron James wanted to do what would make LeBron James happy,” says LeBron James.

9:52 LeBron shown footage of Clevelanders burning his jersey in effigy. SC is all over it…

9:57 Text from WTSP’s Bryan: “On the bright side, some Cleveland station is streaming us awesome live video of the streets of Cleveland reaching Armageddon right now in the newsroom.”

9:58 Other bright side – Sports Casualties having its biggest hits day in two months.

Other things happened this week. They are listed below in no particular order. I’m ending this godforsaken post as soon as I hit 1,000 words. I feel for you Cleveland.

Cleveland’s other encounter with Miami

________

The Clippers’ Donald Sterling was the only owner not in attendance to hear his team’s pitch to then-free agent (now backstabber) LeBron James. It is unclear whether Blake Griffin actually locked Sterling in an electrical closet or if Baron Davis was just joking.

On Sunday, Toronto’s John Buck (.269, 13 HR, 40 RBI) and Atlanta’s Omar Infante (.307, 179 AB) were named to the AL and NL All-Star teams, respectively. On Monday, consumer groups sued Major League Baseball for false advertising, suggesting it change the name of its midsummer showcase to “All-Star (Except Matt Capps, Yovani Gallardo, Omar Infante, Michael Bourn, Marlon Byrd, Fausto Carmona, Matt Thorton, John Buck, and Ty Wigginton) Game.”

Said a furious Bud Selig, “BUT THAT WOULDN’T FIT ON A MARQUEE!”

But seriously, even Omar Infante’s mom thought Joey Votto got screwed.

The Arizona Diamondbacks fired manager AJ Hinch and GM Josh Byrnes last week. Though the club named Kirk Gibson interim manager, it will most likely stick to tradition by handing the two dirtiest jobs in Arizona to Pedro and Juan.

Former Raider Jamarcus Russell was arrested for possession of narcotics in Alabama on Monday. Police suspected drug use when watching film of Oakland’s two-minute offense.

Silver and Black

ESPN reported Monday that the Hawks, Mavericks and Celtics have expressed interest in free agent Shaquille O’Neal. This is a potentially historic deal: no team has ever spent the full midlevel exception on a flotation device.

In non-sequitur news, would you better notice Alexi Lalas’ combover if he didn’t have a red scalp?

Smoke and mirrors?

On Tuesday, USC released top recruit Seantrel Henderson from his scholarship amid NCAA sanctions. On Wednesday, Henderson bought a six-pack of Chek Cola, bought a PC over a Mac, and strapped on his brand new Casio watch. Should patterns hold, the five-star offensive lineman will choose the University of Miami over Ohio State.

Turning now to golf, Paul Goydos on Thursday chose the worst possible day in sports history to shoot 59 in the first round of the John Deere Classic.

Also on Thursday, one-time phenom Michelle Wie picked the best possible day to shoot 82 in the first round of the women’s U.S. Open.

CNBC’s Mandy Drury reported on Thursday’s “Street Signs” that tightened credit card regulations on youth under 21 could lead to a similar crackdown on underage IDs. That faint noise you hear? Westminster Christian School having a collective panic attack.

Police determined Wednesday that Michael Vick dogfighting buddy Quanis Phillips fired a gun at Vick’s 30th birthday bash in Virginia Beach right after the Eagles’ quarterback left the building.

How ’bout that?

“Quanis.”

__________

Here’s your buzzerbeater/salt in wound/insult to injury.

– Robbie

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It’s Finally Here: Decision Time, LeBron

The fate of this sign hangs in the balance.

I have about a billion basketball-related thoughts racing through my brain right now. Let’s try to knock out a few before Thursday night.

Thought #1: Wade and Bosh upstaged The King

The unspoken ground rules for LeBron-A-Palooza read like this: Lay low until LeBron makes his decision; maneuver behind the scenes; make arrangements, but don’t spill the beans until the Alpha Domino falls; let LeBron have his day in the sun – whether he deserves it or not. Well apparently Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley (the only guys in this entire increasingly surreal equation with actual rings) decided that working within said framework was the best course of action for LeBron. That they didn’t get this far through deference. That, with all due respect, King James: you can take your crown and step aside. Now the Miami Heat have a finite nucleus from which to build around, LBJ or not. Riles delivered on his promise. Wade has a wingman for the rest of his career, and LeBron is in danger of being in the exact same position he was in three months ago, only with stiffer competition.

Thought #2: Loyalty to your hometown is rewarded, provided your hometown isn’t Cleveland

Let me take you back to the trade deadline. At the time, the Toronto Raptors thought they had a legitimate chance of retaining the services of their star big man. But had Raps brass been realistic about the situation, they could have swung a deal for the same pieces Cleveland put on the table a couple days ago. Yeah, it would have been risky from Cleveland’s standpoint, potentially trading away the likes of Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson and picks just to watch LeBron and Bosh leave, too, at season’s end. But that’s pretty much the situation they’re in now anyway. If LeBron leaves, guys X, Y and Z are irrelevant. Would Bosh have been enough to deliver a title? Would a title have been enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland? Does LeBron end up staying in Cleveland either way?

We’ll never have answers to some of these questions, but we do know this: Cleveland can’t compete with Miami or New York or Chicago or L.A. If you believe the reports, LeBron really did push hard for Bosh to join him in Cleveland. And that Bosh said “hell no” to $30 million in extra bank and the possibility of spending the next six years on the best team in the league gives you some idea of what an enormous disadvantage the Cavs are dealing with.

All things being equal, Bosh goes to Cleveland to play with a slightly better player, a much better team, and a boatload more money. The notion that he went to Miami because he was more likely to get equal billing is bogus – he went to Miami because it’s Miami. Dwyane Wade has a county named after him. He has no peers. And to this end, it’s a lot easier for Wade to stay with the Heat than it is for LeBron to stay in Cleveland. Loyalty paid off in the end. But come on – with Bosh in tow, this was a no-brainer.

Thought #3: On the other hand…

Cleveland’s biggest advantage in landing LeBron could very well be that… it’s Cleveland. As in Ohio, home of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, Gloria James, LeBron Jr., LeBron. If he “does the right thing,” he stays put at the risk of becoming something of a tragic hero – a herculean superhuman undone by unfailing devotion to a loser town.

Thought #4: “The Decision” could be an absolute disaster

The Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan hit this one on the head: “Call it off, LeBron. Sorry ESPN.” Hell, I felt this way before I knew Pete Rose nemesis Jim Gray would be involved (QbytheU: “I still maintain he has pictures on somebody with farm animals”). I figured that if LeBron was going to go through with this ego-driven madness, he might as well do it up – make it big, really freaking big. I envisioned one of four scenarios: A) MJ crowns The King from atop the Sears Tower, “ceding the thrown” so to speak with Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Derrick Rose and Luc Longley looking on (okay, scratch Longley) B) Decked out in the biggest guayabera you’ve ever seen, LeBron announces his new Heat deal in a press conference at South Beach’s Clevelander Hotel, you know, just to rub it in C) Mark Messier hands LeBron his new No. 11 jersey on the floor of Madison Square Garden. The Yes Network presents him with a $20 million endorsement deal to compensate for the money he’ll forfeit so the Knicks can bring in ‘Melo D) A 73,000 capacity crowd in Cleveland Browns Stadium re-welcomes home its favorite son.

But no. Instead this whole clusterf*ck goes down at a Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, CT. And while it’s a nice gesture for LeBron’s camp to mint charity coin with ad revenue, it’s impossible to look at the hour-long spectacle as anything other than a premature display of self-anointing by a 25-year-old kid who still hasn’t done enough in terms of W’s to warrant such a show. There’s the big announcement 10 minutes in – possibly with college recruit-style hats – lots of guffawing and a “free-form” interview. Still, try as he might, LeBron can’t reclaim a hijacked summer that he’s long taken for granted as his alone… unless, of course, he chooses New York or Chicago.

Thought #5: Is Erik Spoelstra on the brink of supplanting Ringo Starr as world’s luckiest man?

Ironic right? On the Fourth Beatle’s 70th birthday, Heat coach-for-now Erik Spoelstra potentially finds himself surrounded by three superstar meal tickets. We just assumed that Riles would march the 50 or so feet down from the luxury boxes to the bench as soon as the Heat landed Free Agent Stud No. 2. No way would he pass on the opportunity to fit himself with a sixth ring (and seventh, eighth…). He’d pushed a “protege” out before, and a more talented one at that… Well perhaps the biggest surprise of this entire ordeal is that Coach Slick has a conscience – a small, ego-stroking conscience, but a conscience nonetheless. For his part, Dwyane Wade assertively maintained during his I’m-Staying interview that Spoelstra is the guy. Likewise, Bosh told the Miami Herald, “That [interview] made that clear. Dwyane made that clear. Pat made it clear. Erik’s the guy.” I’ll believe it when I see it (just sayin’, better not get off to an 11-10 start), but should Spoelstra actually helm the Wade/Bosh/LeBron trifecta, he’ll hold the trump card over Ringo, Stevie Williams, Larry Coker and all the other world’s luckiest men. Next year’s Heat job could be the most enviable of any in league history. And it just might belong to Erik Freaking Spoelstra.

Thought #6: Beware the sleeping giant out West.

Believe it or not, the league doesn’t revolve around LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or so I’ve told myself. In fact, there’s a 21-year-old phenom out in Oklahoma City that might end up being better than both… You watch basketball. You know how freakishly gifted Kevin Durant is. You know how he turned a 23-win squad into an early challenger to the eventual champions. And you know that the team for which he plays is loaded with young talent. Durant signed a 5-year, $86 million extension with the Thunder today. Three or four years from now, we could look back on this past week as a game-changer: Durantula chose to stay in Oklahoma City, the new capital of basketball. That dot LeBron sees in his rearview mirror? It’s a six-foot nine-inch freight train.

Thought #7: I’ve changed my mind. LeBron stays in Cleveland.

Despite Chicago’s sweetening of the pot with Carlos Boozer and Chad Ochocinco’s NYC-riddled tweets, I’m picking LeBron to pass up the glitz and glitter (and jewelry) to stay in Cleveland. He just doesn’t have the nerve to stick it to his boys back home with an hour-long SportsCenter Special… right? I think LeBron is better than that. A hopeless sports town needs him to be.

– Robbie

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“KJ2MIA” and Other Google Trends: The Week in Review, Redux

Meet the new boss.

Best. Week. Ever… Ok, besides Joe Johnson.

“She certainly is quite stacked, I’ll give you that,” says Mother Afrobutterfly, as she mildly berates me for my history of Drury-heavy posting. Yes, Casualtists, I’m still back home and now – despite my best efforts – my parents are back as well. Benefits to this include: working Internet courtesy of Mr. Fix It (aka qbytheU aka my father), homemade meals (although tonight’s teriyaki salmon was “something you’d get at a Picadilly”), a replenished fridge full of Budweiser and, of course, a bountiful well of source material.

Joking aside, my parents are pretty awesome, event though my mom’s incessant whistling of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” as I attempt to pound out a Week In Review does its best to convince me otherwise. And since I only see them some 20 or so days out of the year, I’m going to try to be on my best behavior. They’re pretty good to me.

So you’ve probably heard a lot about Miami in the last few days, what with its primetime billing on E! reality specials, proliferation of beautiful women cluttering your TV screen and – OH YEAHthe probably-false-but-we’re-going-to-run-it-anyway-because-journalism-in-the-21st-century-is-a-total-joke Stephen A. Smith report that LeBron James to South Beach is “highly likely.” Needless to say that if LeBron really does sign with Riles, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, I’m taking 75 percent of the credit – and only because I’m ceding the other 25 percent to my father, who’s now tagging all emails with “KJ2MIA” (Read: King James… you get the rest).

I’m sticking to my guns on this one – James to the Windy City in a sign-‘n-trade for Luol Deng and a Gibson’s steak – but it would make intuitive sense, at least, that the Hilsons return to The 305 spells six years of good fortune. I need not remind you that the Florida Gators ripped off four national championships in my first four years in Gainesville. Or that said team won a combined ONE title in basketball/football in the preceding history of time before my arrival.

(Side note: just scored football season tickets through the student lottery, so if you’re some bleeding heart Gator looking to blow his life savings on UF/Alabama, I’m more than happy to rip you off… hit me up. I’ll be watching replays of the 2002 Rose Bowl)

We were really good once.

Let’s talk some more about Miami, and specifically about how a friend of a friend of a friend who dates Pat Riley’s daughter has confirmed to Sports Casualties that Riles was actively recruiting King James before July 1. Yes, this against league rules. And if David Stern is a Casualtist, you, Heat owner Micky Arison, are screwed.

So what did I do this week? Thanks for asking…

Monday: Spent quality time with two buddies at a dive in the Grove that apparently collects fine Cuban women. You wouldn’t think that a Monday night in Anywhere would be unquantifiably better than the best night in Gainesville. You would think wrong. The Gator football player I ran into can back me up on this one. He did the Chomp unprovoked and gave me a black-man handshake. Must’ve known I go by Afrobutterfly. Sweet.

Tuesday: Thought about Monday, and didn’t watch soccer.

Wednesday: Pregamed for LeBron-A-Palooza via poolside free-agency blogging. Also had lunch with the prettiest girl in Miami.

Thursday: More poolside blogging made palatable by the fact that A) I was poolside and B) I was blogging, as opposed to something that could be construed as productive.

As you can see, much like Vlad Guerrero against his old team Wednesday, I too went four for four with two homers. More bloviating to come, but first let me take this opportunity to tell all of Canada to shove it.

Way back at the trade deadline, I wrote the following about the Toronto Raptors’ decision to keep star forward Chris Bosh…

For his part, Colangelo thinks the Raptors have more than the shot I give them to resign Bosh. I give them a shot in hell. The Raptors will essentially let walk one of the premier all-around forwards in basketball – this after they spent about $50 million on Hedu Turkoglu. The lesson here as always: Canada sucks.

Well this did not sit to well with Milton Sports Guy, Dan, Ian, J.W., or  Doug when they read it here. Each called me vicious names, while maintaing with Purple and Rose-colored glasses that Bosh would resign with Toronto.

In the most gracious way possible, then, I’d like to remind the good people of Ontario that I was right and you were delusional. Your boy will leave. Enjoy another six years of irrelevancy and bitterly cold winters.

Best,

Robbie

"Reunited and it feels so.."

Now to other news and notes…

On Saturday during Yankees-Dodgers, Fox’s Joe Buck and Tim McCarver debated whether or not NL managers should make Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg an all-star after only five starts.

Managers? Apparently Buck and McCarver have never heard of “divine right.”

Also on Saturday, the Braves squeaked out a 4-3 victory over the Tigers when, with the bases loaded, plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called a third strike to end the game on a pitch a foot outside. Asked to explain himself afterward, Cederstrom said, “Come on. Did you watch the ’97 NLCS? The Braves had this one coming.”

Somewhere, the Crime Dog sleeps easier.

On Friday, Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter against the Rays. I wasn’t able to see it, but I’m sure there’ll be one next week.

The Boston Celtics’ disgruntled vet Rasheed Wallace, who still has 2 years and $14 million left on his deal, announced his retirement over the weekend. Some analysts called the move “unexpected,” others compared it to manna from heaven.

Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami improved to 1-9 after giving up 2 hits over 7 innings on what has since been dubbed “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

The Department of Defense this week deployed two massive blimps to the site of the BP oil spill. The plan, apparently, is to distract Gulf Coast residents with, uh, two massive blimps.

On Wednesday, ESPN aired “The NBA Free Agent Roundtable,” a sit-down pairing “PTI’s” Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser with the Miami Herald’s Dan Le Batard and Sports Guy Bill Simmons… or as the latter are known to top Bristol brass, “The Replacements.”

Now it’s time for ‘CaneSpotting, where I keep tabs on your favorite Miami Hurricanes via brief, awkward encounters…

UM star receiver Travis Benjamin looks like he just got off the “Survivor” island, but he’s made up for lack of muscle by adding 20 pounds of offseason dreads.

Hopefully, T-Ben is getting advice from Olympic sprinter Lauryn Williams, who’s sporting thighs the size of my waste and looks to be in fine form for London 2012. (extent of encounter: I nod, she nods, she laughs at my whiteness.)

Medalist/Hurricane

For now, though, Benjamin is a mere semester away from completing his long-in-the-making total-body transformation to Ziggy Marley.

I also bumped into coach Frank Haith and the UM basketball team at sushi joint Raw in South Miami. I didn’t say anything to them, as they were too busy thinking of ways to underachieve.

KJ2MIA

– Robbie

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